NO-ONE in the Sunderland squad knows Gus Poyet any better than Liam Bridcutt.
In three years together at Brighton, the pair were able to develop their respective skill set; Poyet in his maiden managerial appointment and Bridcutt as a first-team regular for the first time in his career.
Even before their time on the south coast, Poyet had loomed large for Bridcutt after he was a youngster in the Chelsea academy while the Uruguayan was a Stamford Bridge icon.
And while the momentum in Sunderland’s transformation under Poyet may have slowed over the last month, Bridcutt is under no illusions about the head coach’s contribution towards the Black Cats’ survival hopes.
“Growing up playing for Chelsea, Gus was one of the key players there at the time,” said Bridcutt.
“I’ve always looked up to him as a player and when there was the opportunity to work with him, it was even better for me.
“The thing with Gus is that he oozes success.
“The qualities that he brings to the table just rub off on everyone.
“You’ve noticed it since he’s taken over here – the confidence the boys have to go and play the football that he wants to play.”
The respect between Poyet and Bridcutt is clearly mutual.
The 24-year-old was at the top of Poyet’s shopping list throughout the January transfer window and when that chase finally paid off in the final 48 hours before the deadline, the Sunderland boss enthused about the capture.
And after Bridcutt was ineligible for the Capital One Cup final and left out of the FA Cup quarter final defeat at Hull, Poyet was eager to get the £2.5million capture back into the frame, as he returned to the starting XI against Crystal Palace last weekend.
“Gus shows a lot of confidence in me and we understand each other very well,” added Bridcutt.
“We’ve worked with each other for three years now and he gets respect.
“He’s had a great career as a player and he’ll have an even better one as a manager.”